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emotional intelligence

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Emotional intelligence is rarely discussed in the classroom and that’s why today’s guest says traditional education has failed entrepreneurs.

She’s Elizabeth Miner and through her research she’s discovered distinct patterns when comparing the success and failure of business owners that boil down to emotional intelligence.

What exactly is “it”? Why is it so pivotal? And what does it mean for your business?

Listen now and find out.

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What You’ll Discover About Emotional Intelligence (highlights & transcript):

The Entrepreneur Advantage* Why traditional education fails entrepreneurs 

* Definition of emotional intelligence 

* How better emotional intelligence improves decision making 

* How we can assess our own emotional intelligence 

* How emotional intelligence balances decision making biases and  improves risk management 

* How to leverage emotional intelligence for more success 

* Using emotional intelligence to focus on what you do best 

* Things holding you back from recognizing your own emotional intelligence 

* What to look for when hiring a business coach 

* And MUCH more.

My next guest says traditional education has failed entrepreneurs, but she’s also discovered distinct patterns when comparing the successes and failures of business owners and says it boils down to emotional intelligence. So, what is that and why is it so pivotal and what does it mean for your business? Stay tuned. And when we come back, we’re going to find out.


This is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, helping you see business issues, hiding in plain view that matter to your bottom line.


Welcome to Business Confidential Now. I’m your host, Hanna Hasl-Kelchner. And today’s guest is international business coach, global speaker and author Elizabeth Miner, whose most recent book is The Entrepreneur Advantage: Emotional Intelligence for Building and Growing Your Business. She says sustainable success relies on understanding the human engine running a business, and through her work, she encourages entrepreneurs to think more deeply and personally about how they operate and show up in their business.


So let’s have her join us now. Welcome to Business Confidential Now, Elizabeth.


Thank you so much for having me here, Hanna. I really appreciate it. And I’m looking forward to speaking with your listeners.


Well, I’m looking forward to this conversation and especially about your research. You say that traditional education has failed entrepreneurs. Tell me more.


Well, most traditional education that we now find and I’m so grateful that universities are now teaching this, but they focus on operations and strategy, yet they forget about the one thing that every business today has in common, and that is that at least for today, all businesses are run by humans. So, we need to understand more about the human engine that drives the behaviors that drive the business.


Okay, so what do you mean by a human engine? To me, that already sounds a little robotic.


Well, here’s the thing that every business is based by a human. A human runs every business, whether they’re an entrepreneur, and they have founded the business or they’re a CEO. But these are the people who make decisions for the business. So, they are the human engine, so to speak, in my description that’s running the business. And humans are emotional beings. Whether you think you are or you think you’re not, it doesn’t really matter. It is a fact.


So logic, although it plays a part in your decision making and your strategy and your how you come and to approach your business. It also is emotion based. So, the more you understand about how you show up and the lens through which you view the world, the better off you’re going to be to make decisions that are good for the business as a whole, and not just based on your history or things that you believe. Does that explain it better?


Yeah, it does. That makes a lot of sense. Now, the term emotional intelligence that gets thrown a lot around a lot as though everybody knows what it means. But just to be clear, since you’ve researched and written about it, what does it mean?


Yes. Well, it’s a very trendy term, right. And when I started putting things together, I looked at the Webster’s and Oxford definitions, and it came out really stuffy. And I just didn’t understand it in a practical sense. So, of course, as entrepreneurs do, I came up with my own definition.


So my definition is really about the way you show up, why you show up that way, and how you interact and intersect with the world around you. And so, understanding what forms, what you look at, how you react to things, what you react to, that is your intelligence around your emotions. And that really affects how you run a business.


Most definitely. It sounds like it affects any type of relationship. No.


Yes, it is. I do believe it is a human thing that we need to enhance just for daily living and for life in general. It’s fantastic for any business person. I focused on entrepreneurs because I kept seeing behaviors that were making people really successful and ones that were sending people into epic failures that were so easily avoidable if they could just see why they were making these decisions.


And so that’s the reason why I focused on entrepreneurs. But you’re absolutely right. This is something that applies for leaders, for business people, and for just general people who are existing in the human realm.


Definitely. Well, I can understand the emphasis on entrepreneurs because so much is riding on them as far as their own personal financial security. They’re not ensconced in a big organization where there’s a little bit more slack, shall we say, if they don’t perform at 150%. Actually, I think it’s Gallup that says most employees are engaged at, oh, a little less than 70%, which when I was in school, that was a failing grade.


But still, I mean, there’s more riding on it when it’s your own business, whether you’re an entrepreneur or consider yourself a small business owner. There’s a lot of pressure you’ve got not just your own well-being, but your family’s well-being and perhaps your employees’ well-being because you only have a handful relying on your decisions and how well you lead.


So I’m curious about the emotional intelligence surrounding the behaviors that you say have created patterns that lead to failure. Let’s talk about those. What are they?


Well, so some of the things that happen is people make decisions either based on their past experiences and what they end up doing is dragging things that have no relativity to their current situation and they drag it with them as they’re making this decision. So, I had a gentleman that called me and he said, “Look, I need an urgent, urgent session with you.” And I was like, “Absolutely, what are we dealing with?”


He said, “I’ve got a really big decision to make. And the last time I made this, I screwed it up. So, I need to sit down with you.” So right there, he wants one because he knew that what he was dealing with in front of him, he was dragging something along from his past. He was already coming into this decision with the fear that he was going to make a mistake. And so right there he stops the pattern. And then he also brought somebody else in to help him differentiate what he was thinking about from his past decision.


Did it apply to his current decision? And actually, what should he be looking at to make this current decision successful in and of itself, separate of anything he had done before? So those are the types of things that emotional intelligence will bring because, as you said, small businesses, independent business owners, entrepreneurs, however you want to call them, they are responsible from everything from personnel to paperclips.


Right. And every decision is falling on them, at least initially. So, you need to make sure that you are showing up with all of your faculties focused on only this decision and not, “oh my God, I made four different terrible decisions this morning. So, this one’s going to be terrible.” I just I’m not even going to worry about it too much. I’m just going to make a decision. Boom. You’ve just dragged in your fears and they’re going to influence how you show up for this next decision.


Maybe you’re not focused on all the things you need to be. Maybe you don’t call somebody else in because you have a fear that somebody’s going to figure out you don’t know this and you need some extra help. Now, if you are not feeling confident and you won’t turn to that person that you think is smarter than you and say, “Hey, I’m not sure I can do this by myself. I’d like your help. I would like your input. I would like your thoughts on this.”


If you don’t have that confidence or know that this person triggers you in a way and so you won’t call them in, you’re not going to put your best foot forward for this decision.




As an entrepreneur, you tend to be inside your own head. So how can how can we assess our own emotional intelligence?


Well, that is really difficult to do. But it just really begins with pattern interruption. It is questioning everything and that can be exhausting, but it’s so important. A lot of times we do things just in a knee-jerk reaction, but if we just stop and figure out “Why am I doing this? Why do I always get the yellow post-its? Is there any reason behind it?”


I mean, as simple as that, just stop and ask and then you figure out, nope, there’s no reason, but it doesn’t matter. “Great. Move on to the next thing.” “Why am I not looking at hiring this person? They look qualified. What’s involved here? Are they triggering me in some way? Is it that their personality is not a fit? Or do I fear that they’re smarter than me and they might take over a part of my business or what is going on?”


So like everything from, like I said, personnel to post-it notes, question all your decisions, “why am I making this decision? What am I looking at to make this decision? And are there things I might be missing?” And if you can’t tell, ask somebody else, add them to your – to your list and say, hey, these are the things I’m considering in this decision.


“Is there anything that you think might be a blind spot for me? Anything that you think I might not be taking into consideration?” And that’s one way to just start to check in with yourself and figure out what is going into these decisions or our activities that you’re doing, the direction that you’re moving, either the company or anything that you’re moving forward, a particular project or the company as a whole.


And when you start to look at, “why am I going in this direction? Are there things that could be missing?” Is there somebody who might be able to help me understand that I have the full picture or I don’t – that’s going to help you figure out where you stand. And then you can start to fill in either by enhancing your own emotional development and perspective or knowing what areas to fill in so that you can backfill and have a more complete picture.



So it really sounds like these are all elements related to decision making and trying to compensate for biases that we might have.


That’s definitely one element to it. But it also comes into managing risk, right? Because you might, number one, managing risk is something that we do differently. Whether it’s a personal risk, a professional risk; our professional risk might be different if we have, say, a staff, as you mentioned earlier, or whether we’re a solopreneur, whether we have somebody that’s riding on this income or whether it’s just ours, we’re going to manage our risk differently.


But what comes into that? I worked with an entrepreneur that had grown up around I think it was an uncle who had been an entrepreneur back years and years ago when they were growing up. And they remember that this person would ping pong all the time. One day they show up and they were flush with cash and everything was going great. And the next day, almost two days later, they’re knocking on the door, trying to borrow some money because they’re out of money because they lost it all.


Right. And so, this particular entrepreneur that I was working with thought that it was way too volatile and they weren’t able to start a business. And it was based on an experience that they watched somebody else go through. And so, once we could isolate that and isolate what made that experience for that uncle different from what this person was going through and what kinds of things this person was going to be vulnerable to, they could make a better decision for themselves based on only their information.


So they now manage risk in a way that they don’t worry so much about the ping pong because they’ve set things in place for themselves because those are things that were triggering for them. Does that make sense?


Yeah. Now that’s a great example. Now what we’ve been talking about so far has been focusing on the baggage and sort of the negative aspects of emotional intelligence that hold people back or perhaps leads them to decisions that are suboptimal for them. And then, of course, just increases the baggage.



So. Right, let’s focus on the positive side, because you said you’ve discovered behaviors that are both positive and negative. The negative is what contributes to the failures and the positive to the successes. So, let’s talk about the successes. What are the characteristics of emotional intelligence? How do people show up in ways that help them succeed?


This is a great area to focus on. One of the things that highly emotional intelligent people do is they can isolate failure and success. So, when they have a failure, they can actually examine it and learn from it and figure out what they would like to do differently next time. When they have a success, they don’t just go, “great, woohoo” and then move on.


They actually sit back and look at it. “What did I do really well? What did I what do I want to repeat? Where are the strengths that I saw in this?” I had a gentleman that came to me. He was new to entrepreneurship and he was doing some real estate flipping, okay, and he did this transaction or he put in this bid, excuse me. And didn’t win the bid. So, I said, okay, great. What’d you learn from that?


It’s like, well, “I didn’t get the bid.” I said, “okay, but did you sit down and really kind of pull it apart and figure out what went well, what didn’t go well? Do you think that there were some things that you did really well that you can repeat?” And “are there things that you could identify so that you know that when you’re going against maybe another institutional investor, that these are things that you could do differently when you’re going through another individual investor?”


These are the things that you need to look out for. So, when you have that, you don’t just go, “Oh, it was a failure” and move on. But you go, “Oh, this is what happened. This is what I can do with that, and this is how I can grow.”


And you do the same thing with successes that’s so important. The other area that it’s really, really important with is competition. Simon Sinek talks about a story where he did an event for Microsoft, and at the time they had just come out with their MP4 player. That was a Zune and it could have been an MP3 or an MP4, I’m not sure, but it was a personal music player and he got a Zune because he spoke there, and several weeks later he went and spoke at Apple and they gave him an iPod.


And he had the opportunity to talk with one of the high executives in Apple. And he said, “I just received a Zune and it’s a better product than the iPod. iPod. What do you think about that?” And the gentleman said, “I have no doubt, but we’re putting together the best product we know how to do.” So, they were focused on themselves and they were focused on just continuing to do better all the time, not copy anything else. And today iTunes exists and the iPlayers exist and nobody knows what a Zune is.


So if you focus on if you’re not worried about the competition, you can run your own race. You cannot run a race if you’ve got your head turned back and you’re looking at who is the closest one next to me. Emotionally intelligent people really focus on making their product, their service, their work the best they can for their clients. They know their clients; they’re focused on them and they’re just focused on that. And that makes them far more successful more times than not. Relentless focus.



I like that. Interesting example. What do you think are the most common pitfalls and roadblocks for entrepreneurs recognizing their own emotional intelligence? Because what I’m hearing is these postmortems on the successes as well as the failures to say, what did I learn? How can I grow from this? How can I do better the next time? That takes a particular type of mindset, a growth mindset, that somebody admits they don’t know it all and there’s always an opportunity and room for some growth. But what do you think holds people back?


I think there’s a couple of things. One, I think business goes so quickly right now and people are like, “Well, I just don’t have time for that. I’ll get to it.” And a lot of people do mean to get to it and they just don’t. And that’s opportunity lost. That is a huge opportunity cost. But the other thing is I don’t think people have enough resources around more times than not. This is a space where coaches do a phenomenal job at helping people stop and look at the whole picture and really kind of.


Ask some questions. It’s fascinating. And I write about this in the book that the auto industry did not design safety mechanisms for vehicles until into the 1950s. And for these, excuse me, let me clarify that. They did not build in safety measures for 50% of their markets until the 1950s. They were always designing safety features for the average male. They did not take into consideration that even before the fifties, women made up 50% of their market and they were not making safety features anatomically correct to keep the safety of the women driving.


They were not taking into consideration that the average male may not be driving. They could be shorter, taller, larger, smaller, or they could be female and anatomically different. They did not take into consideration of that. And that is not only a missight, but it is a danger to a large percentage of your market in that particular example. So, these things they just didn’t look. And if you look at the auto industry, they didn’t have designers that were female.


And so by not hiring people in a diverse group, they didn’t have diverse opinions coming into discussion. And so maybe that would have come a lot faster had they had more diversity and inclusion. And we’re seeing a lot of that today in the push for diversity and inclusion. It will round out where you don’t see that you’re not looking.


Absolutely. Because we all come at things with our own history, our own perspectives. And that’s a combination of things that we’ve been exposed to throughout our life. So, if we haven’t had a lot of diverse exposure, we don’t know what those voices have to add.


Exactly. And that’s one of the things that is a failure spot for entrepreneurs and businesses all along, because you just don’t know what you don’t know sometimes. And we’re just finding some of that out for some of us. And it’s about time we add more places at the table so that we make sure that we get a broad view of what our market is. We’re missing pieces of our market all across the board, not just in the auto industry.



Very good. Now, you mentioned something interesting about how entrepreneurs they’re so focused on, especially in a startup mode, getting their business going, keeping it going and being distracted with those immediate needs and putting off sort of the reassessment of the emotional intelligence or what can I learn from this, having the time to think about their business as opposed to just work in their business.


So I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about those who want to have a coach. How do they go about finding one that they think they can work with, that they can confide in? Because that’s really what it takes. Somebody that you can feel confident, basically sharing the inner workings of your business or this human engine that you talk about to say, help me get better.


Yeah, it’s a really tough thing. And it’s funny because there’s a lot of things that articles out there and a lot of push, go get a mentor and go get a business coach. And then and then they expect everybody just goes on Google and finds one and that’s just not the way to do it. I myself have actually fired three business coaches myself from my own business, so it is about fit.


It’s really important that you interview coaches and find somebody that you resonate with, that can understand you and will listen to what your goals and your values are as a company and as a person. That is really, really important. The other thing is that some business coaches will focus more on maybe strategy. Some people will focus more on helping you get funding. Some people will help you more with personnel issues.


You really need to know what you’re looking for and then seek out those people either by having networking connections that somebody can recommend for you, or there’s tons of business coaches like myself on these podcasts. And if you hear somebody that you resonate with, take a look into their background and see if this is somebody that you might want to interview, to work with for your business. If you resonate with them…


There’s a good chance that they might be able to help you in your way, and you have to be able to feel comfortable and you have to feel heard. If you’re not feeling like people are understanding what’s important to you and just pushing their agenda or their package or whatever it is that they feel is right, that’s not the right fit for you. You definitely need somebody who is going to co-create with you what you’re looking for.


Absolutely. A good business coach is non-judgmental and should be asking questions so that you come to the realization and conclusions by yourself as opposed to telling you what to do. That’s a different type of interaction. So, thank you so much, Elizabeth. This has really been great. Emotional intelligence is such a fascinating subject and I really appreciate the research that you’ve done in this area and your insights to help us get better about understanding how we show up and how we can show up in a way that helps move our success forward.


So if you’re listening and want some more information about Elizabeth’s work, her podcast, it’s called Entrepreneurs IRL, In Real Life or her book, The Entrepreneur Advantage: Emotional Intelligence for Building and Growing Your Business. You can find that information in the show notes over at And if you know someone who would enjoy learning more about emotional intelligence for entrepreneurs, please tell them about Elizabeth Miner’s work and this podcast episode.


Even better, share the link and leave a positive review so others can find out about this amazing topic too. You can do it on your podcast app or over at because this is Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner and I thank you for listening.


Have a great day and an even better tomorrow.

Best Moments

Why Traditional Education Sadly Fails Entrepreneurs

Going Beyond Trendy Meanings of Emotional Intelligence

How to Leverage Emotional Intelligence to Succeed More Often

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Guest: Elizabeth Miner

Elizabeth Miner

Elizabeth Miner is an unconventional success. Combining her 20+ years as a corporate paralegal with coaching clients around the globe, she has a unique worldview of entrepreneurship. Elizabeth recognized distinct patterns in the success and failure of business owners and has been piecing together where traditional education has failed entrepreneurs. 

Her research has revealed the key factor to beating the failure rate statistics for entrepreneurs is understanding how the human engine that runs a business works. Her contribution to opening the conversation on this topic is her book, The Entrepreneur Advantage: Emotional Intelligence for Building and Growing Your Business

Working with both groups and individuals, Elizabeth shares her knowledge and encourages entrepreneurs to think more deeply and personally about how they operate and show up in their business to create complete and sustainable success. 

Elizabeth hosts the podcast, entrepreneurs IRL, sharing the real life stories of entrepreneurs making their way through the entrepreneurial journey. She has been featured on podcasts including Entrepreneur on Fire and has been published by She is Fierce!, Rank & File Magazine and Mike Dooley’s personal development site Tut.

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Contact Elizabeth and connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Also, listen to her podcast entrepreneurs IRL on Apple Podcasts.

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